Aqeel Khan to lead the way in Davis Cup

Pakistan veteran will open campaign against Indonesia in Group II semi-final

Natasha Raheel July 13, 2015
Aqeel emphasised that playing the opening tie will be an advantage for him rather than a source of pressure. PHOTO: FILE

KARACHI: A three-member Pakistan squad will take on Indonesia in the Davis Cup Asia-Oceania Zone Group II semi-final on the hardcourts of the Gelora Bung Karno Tennis Stadium in Jakarta on Tuesday.

Aqeel Khan, the country’s most seasoned player, will take on 27-year-old Aditya Sasongko in the first singles match of the day, while Samir Iftikhar will play David Agung Sasanto in the second.

Although Pakistan are playing without their key player Aisamul Haq Qureshi, Aqeel believes the team still has a good chance of qualifying for the finals of Group II.

Read: Pakistan go into Davis Cup campaign with mental edge

“We have a big chance of winning this tie,” Aqeel, who will be playing his first tie in Indonesia, told The Express Tribune. “I’ve seen the Indonesians play at different events so I know their game. We can win this round despite having three players instead of four.”

Along with Aqeel, Abid Ali Akbar and Samir will be responsible to ensure wins on their part in the three-day tie.

“It took us some time to get used to each other, because my style of playing is very different from theirs,” said Aqeel of the two youngsters. “We have improved a lot as a team and I’m looking forward to playing doubles on day two with Abid.”

The Karachi-based player emphasised that playing the opening tie will be an advantage for him rather than a source of pressure. “I’m confident of my game,” said Aqeel, who has represented Pakistan in 43 ties since his debut in 1998.

Read: Davis Cup Asia-Oceania Group II: Pakistan hold on to nerves to reach round two

Meanwhile, the team’s non-playing captain and coach Hamidul Haq said he had full faith in Aqeel’s ability to give Pakistan the lead in the first singles match. “I chose to make Aqeel play in the opening rubber because it will take place in the morning and he has a better chance of winning at that time. I’m sure he will give us the lead in the first singles rubber.”

Hamid added that his strategy will be to save the players’ energy in the hot and humid weather of Jakarta.

Pakistan will be playing Indonesia for the third time. The two nations last faced each other in 1984, when Pakistan won 4-1 in Rawalpindi, whereas Indonesia won the first two meetings.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 14th, 2015.

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